Look. With the river behind us and the world in front of us- the blog is back. Muahaha. And guess how I’ll now be using this blog. By posting photos of my life and romanticizing them into seemingly enviable but definitely exaggerated stardom because that’s what people who care about their Instagram followers do on blogs. Duh. The way I see it, if lesson number one in my life was “Gracie!!! Life is not like the movies!!!” and lesson number two was “Gracie!!! Life is not like the storybooks!!!” then fine. You guys are harsh. But I’m making my life the next best thing; a damn blog.*
*I know my homecoming to the blogging world seems like I’m doing it because three respectable parties are patiently awaiting the return of this very thing. But don’t flatter yourself. I’m not doing it for you. I’m only doing it for the attention.
Hey. It’s me. I’m typing (because this certainly can’t be considered writing) from a bed. This bed belongs to the son of a retired New Orleans homicide cop. Irish, he’d tell you. No, I’m not in New Orleans. No! I did not share the bed with his son. My canoe is right by the Motiva plant on the west bank before the Sunshine Bridge. If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about it’s because I probably do. This busy but definitely not fast commute in these last 200 miles has given me the chance to get to know the industrial aspect of the river. More importantly, where the money’s at! Whenever I’m bored these days, my back up plan is to sit back and look at every ocean vessel, barge, plant, tug, tow….and try to grasp just how much money is flowing up and down the river at that moment. It’s crazy. Crazy I tell ya! Actually, the new bridge in Baton Rouge was purposely built lower than its predecessor to keep the ocean ships from traveling up into Mississippi. Keeping the money in Louisiana…way to look out for your people, governor. Soon, I’ll pass Marathon…the largest oil refinery in the world which will be pretty cool. They don’t have Marathon gas stations down here. Just the refinery. And I’ve noticed Marathon is so big they don’t contract all of their barges out. They have their own fleet! Powerhouse. Yesterday, I got on the river early but didn’t make it far with the wind. I called my dad in tears frustrated that I’d have to sit around for two days (because the following day (today) said the winds would be higher) and make it nowhere when I AM SO CLOSE. My dad said you can’t do anything about the wind so spend your time accepting you’ll be sitting around and find yourself something to do. I did.
I walked 5 miles into town and found a charge and a coffee. That’s where I met Jimmy, the cop. He and his wife Debbie let me shower and do laundry. They took me to breakfast for things I can’t even pronounce in a little Cajun village and later we are going to lunch at an old plantation. I also got to check out a sugar cane harvest and learned about that industry. It’s been sitting at 21cents a pound for the last 30 years says Pete. I could write an entire paper (not in a bad way, an interesting way) on sugar cane and how Mexico sells their sugar to us but imports theirs from the world market at 12cents. The United States is the second largest importer of sugar in the world, did you know? Aaaand the farmers…well actually, that really cool information would take to long to explain and I’m losing my attention in this update.
Jimmy knows a man with a sailboat in one of the three marinas in New Orleans…which means things for all you who know other things.
Okay. Well. I’m okay. Just ready to be done. Get my stuff back to New Orleans and fly home for Christmas…say hi…pick up Maggie and bring her back to NOLA. But first, I need to make hella (is that still a term?) miles tomorrow.
Yes, I know they don’t have the reflective lenses. But still. That’s why the ones I will get myself are more coveted.
UH, GUYS. Guess which sunglasses TSwift is wearing in her ‘blank space’ music video? Yeeppp. The ones that, despite multiple distractions, are still at the forefront of my mind. The Linda Farrows. Which is simply perfect. TSwift is so unapologetically herself and these glasses say “yeah ya are babyy.”
I’m on the barge again. Tonight the boys took me to get fried turkey legs and fries from this set up outside a run down cleaners. It’s all very fun and new. Walking into the area I felt whiter than my pink Patagonia pullover I purposely left back at the barge in an attempt to be cool. But the boys say it’s not about white and black. It’s about different cultures. A good amount of my journaling is learning and deciphering through my racial experiences along the river….as a white, middle class, girl…lol.
The boys also think, and are not the first nor second to suggest, I try out a different city before New Orleans. “If you slow you gonna get beat. You can do it. Just stay on ya toes.”
“Man. Don’t scare her. Let her do what she wants to do. But if you can’t understand the way someone talks you say…stop. Break that shit down for me.”
“I’ve already done that to you guys.”
“Yeah, man. She got that down.”
“Okay. But when you get there. Keep within four blocks until you fast on ya toes.”
FOUR BLOCK RADIUS!!!! Vhaaat.
I better stop posting like I’m texting Mitchy or something.
Hey. Thank you for all the cold front warnings. It is quite humbling to think of the vast amount of people taking the time to think about and then warn me what I’m in for.
I’m writing this from a barge. Yes, I slept on a barge last night, haha! Not the enemy guys, I promise. Just a construction one that’s contracted through Kirby…which means nothing to people who aren’t barge people or paddling people.
They took me in after they saw my tent. I was looking to camp on the bank right next to them because the rain made it so I wasn’t visible. The coast guard and sheriff had already checked on me and patronized the sh*t out of me. Acted as if I hadn’t made it this far and I was taking a recreational paddle through Baton Rouge for the day. I think it’s because they didn’t fully comprehend my starting place. When asked I said I came from the headwaters and they said “where is that?” Oh well. I don’t need them to recognize how far I’ve come but when they take an hour out of my paddling to lecture me about the necessity of a solar charger for my phone theeeen I’m bitter. “Sir, I do have a solar charger but if you look up…there is no sun.”
I was in the barge before daylight decided to leave so I got to go on errands with a captain whom the others call Roe. We went to pick up an inland pilot and bring her to a ship (the ginormous things) from Singapore. Any international ship coming into the river needs an American pilot and they take command over the captain…because they are more familiar with the river. This girl was so cool. She gave me her number and is going to help me navigate the traffic and what not. We also picked up a part time actor from a barge who had to go to wardrobe for a movie.
At night, the boys ordered us pizza and we watched “A Most Wanted Man” but mostly I fell asleep. The boys, Courtney and Corey and Jeff, made a bed of coats and opened the oven for extra warmth. Haha!
I have to be thankful for my gender here. Apparently, the three deaf men that paddled earlier this summer stopped here and the old supervisor shooed them away. Can you believe it? Roe said it’s illegal for a company like this to deny anyone on the river help and the supervisor was an ass. Or he was telling me it’s not that they want to help me…they have to. Kidding! I think. But they offered after my tent was pitched.
I have to go decipher these winds. I’m ready for this trip to be over. I have canned peaches waiting for me at the ocean!
Update on the update. I got a shower….cool, huh? This bag doesn’t look like much but let me tell ya! It was better than a shower at a cheap motel. The most uncomfortable part of the entire shower was standing in fear some homeless man was going to walk down and see some hippie naked under a stream in the woods. And then, I guess, I could just paddle away the next day. The point is, I’m clean and no homeless man saw me naked. I hope I’m clean when I get to the gulf.